[caption id="attachment_170751" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Copyright 2020 Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.[/caption]
The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18)
Well, here we are maybe halfway through this period of social isolation. It’s difficult for a lot of reasons. The economic impact is hitting us all. There is the uncertainty of its duration and the fear of the virus infecting ourselves or our loved ones. The lack of contact with other people is especially distressing. We are social beings. We belong with others. It is not good for us to be alone. We feel a little disoriented, lonely, even if we are not alone. There is no having coffee with a friend. No in-person book clubs. No small talk with pretty much anyone. Isolation makes us uneasy. It’s hard. Everyone feels the strain.
As Peggy Noonan said in a Wall Street Journal editorial on April 9,
The crisis has helped us discover the importance of the human face. The explosion of Zoom, FaceTime and Google Hangouts meetings tells us people crave more than just the voice.
Indeed, we crave seeing the faces of those we love, those who are friends, and even those of strangers. Seeing faces is better than just hearing voices. But physical presence is best of all. We want and need to be in the actual presence of others. Recent research has even indicated that loneliness and isolation are health risks. We just don’t function well alone. Isolation affects not only our mental health but even our physical health.
We are communal creatures. We are in communities of families, communities of faith, of shared interests and beliefs, and communities of neighbors. In fact, the reason a highly contagious disease can spread so rapidly is precisely because of our habits, our desires and our needs to be with others. We like to hang out with other people! It’s who we are as human beings.
Perhaps when this is over we will have a renewed appreciation of certain things. We will appreciate the great gifts of conversing with a stranger, hugging a loved one, or playing a game with a grandchild. We will soak up the love of those around us and radiate it back at them. We will remember that companionship is a great blessing and not something to be taken for granted.
[tweet "For Catholics, separation from the Real Presence of the Eucharist is the greatest hardship of all. By @RosemaryBogdan"]
For Catholics, separation from the Real Presence of the Eucharist is the greatest hardship of all. Yes, we can pray anywhere. And God is omnipresent. His spiritual presence fills the universe. But that Real Presence, the presence of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of God Himself, fills and completes a person more than anything else this side of heaven. To be in the presence of the Eucharist is to be in the presence of love itself, more pure than anything we can imagine, stronger than any physical strength, more transforming than any force on earth. Seeing a live feed of the tabernacle reminds me of the presence of Jesus. But He is not here. I am in a different place. His bodily presence is elsewhere. Spiritually, yes, He is with me. But I am a physical being and I miss His physical presence. Terribly.
[caption id="attachment_170750" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Copyright 2020 Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.[/caption]
Photo attached to email. Starts with p9tz (tabernacle on TV)
Is that not the reason that Jesus gave us the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life? Our Creator knows exactly what we need, at a depth way beyond what we could ever comprehend. The Eucharist fulfills for us His promise that He would be with us always. He knows how our relationships thrive with keeping company, how we long to be in the presence, the physical presence, of those we love. Many Christians throughout history and throughout the world are not blessed with the freedom to spend time with Jesus Himself whenever they choose. But we, under normal circumstances, do have that privilege. Churches are open. The sanctuary lamps are lit. We can visit freely. Now the churches are closed and locked. And we remain bodily isolated from the Lord, but only for a time. This too shall pass.
Let us continue in hope, one day at a time, remembering the words of Saint Julian of Norwich.
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
When this scourge of a virus lifts, and surely it will, may we never forget that the freedom to spend time with Jesus in His bodily presence is a gift beyond measure. May we all resolve to spend more time with Him when it again becomes possible.
Blessed be God in the Eucharist. Blessed be His miraculous presence. With profound gratitude may we contemplate that promise that reveals His understanding of the depths of human needs, that promise to be with us always.
How will our faith lives be different when the pandemic ends?
Copyright 2020 Rosemary Bogdan
About the Author
Rosemary Bogdan is a wife, mother of six adult children, and a grandmother. She homeschooled her children when they were young and currently substitute teaches at her favorite Catholic school. When not spending time with her family, Rosemary writes at A Catholic Mother's Thoughts and Catholic365.com.